Watersports Inclusion Games for people with physical, sensory, intellectual and learning disabilities took place this weekend at Lough Derg, Tipperary.
Nearly 100 people took part, along with 71 volunteers
After a two year gap forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Watersports Inclusion Games returned successfully this weekend (25 & 26 June) at Lough Derg Yacht Club. Nearly 100 people with physical, sensory, intellectual and learning disabilities took part despite some adverse weather conditions.
This year’s participants were offered an expanded range of sports including sailing, powerboating, kayaking, canoeing, paddle-boarding, water skiing and fishing, all on the beautiful waters of Lough Derg Yacht Club in Dromineer, Co. Tipperary. Despite the wind and rain, participants all got out on the water to try different activities.
The Watersports Inclusion Games are an award-winning event organised by Irish Sailing with partners from across the watersports sector, that enable people of all abilities from the physical, sensory, intellectual and learning spectrums to take to the water to participate in a wide range of water activities.
Participants range in age from pre-teens to seniors and come from across the country. Some are repeat attendees, and some are first timers. Activities are tailored to each participant’s level and ability – so no two experiences are the same.
Nicole Pennekamp brought her daughter Julia (10) and commented “We have met people from all walks of life. The team behind this, Ciaran Murphy and a bunch of the most devoted people I have ever met, have made a difference in so many lives. Saturday we went on a sailboat. It took her [my daughter] for a few minutes but the girls from Bray Sailing Club were so patient, she didn’t want to come off after. She has been so relaxed and happy that it put a tear in my eye. I am blown away by the love, kindness, passion and care of the people we have met over the weekend”.
Irish Sailing Watersports Inclusion Games Event Manager Johanne Murphy said: “With one in seven of the population living with a disability, the fun and thrill of watersports may seem unattainable to many. However this event showcases how easily different abilities can be facilitated. We at Irish Sailing are working to ensure sailing and other watersports are more readily available to everyone on an equal basis”.
Harry Hermon, CEO of Irish Sailing, added: “We are so delighted to have the Watersports Inclusion Games return after a long delay because of the pandemic. Despite the weather this weekend it’s been fantastic to see so many returning participants as well as new faces out on the water. Activities have been organised with at least thirteen different bodies and organisations, with 71 volunteers all coming together behind this one single purpose – to remove obstacles to people getting out on the water. Our mission at Irish Sailing is to get Ireland active on the water, and the Inclusion Games is one of the best ways we do this. We want to make sure that people of all abilities know that there are multiple watersports available to them, and to encourage everyone to get involved”.
The Games are organised by Irish Sailing in partnership with Canoeing Ireland, Clonmel Dragon Boat and Rowing Club, Cycling Ireland, Irish Wakeboard and Waterski Federation, Irish Wheelchair Association, Kinsale Outdoor Education Centre, Lough Derg Fishing Club, Rowing Ireland, Spinal Injuries Ireland, Tipperary Local Sports Partnership, Vision Sports Ireland, and hosted by Lough Derg Yacht Club.